Group 1: Newspapers

Group 2: Finnish public tv broadcasting

Group 3: Exploring the changing Helsinki

Group 4: Early modern English books


This course aims to bring together students and researchers of humanities, social sciences and computer science, for a week of active co-operation in groups under the heading of Digital Humanities.

Digital Humanities, as understood here, is the use of computer science to aid research in the humanities and social sciences (e.g. in fields like linguistics, literature, art, culture, history, sociology, and language philosophy). Currently, data of interest to researchers in the humanities is increasingly available in digital form. However, often the tools and understanding needed to turn that data into relevant conclusions are still lacking.

Here, collaboration across disciplines is essential. People in the humanities and social sciences have an in-depth understanding of their field, and are able to pose challenging research questions that could in theory be answered by digital collections. Computer scientists on the other hand are needed to solve the complex theoretical, algorithm and tool development challenges that currently stand in the way of such research.

The idea of this hackathon is to offer students and researchers from different backgrounds an opportunity to approach digital humanities through hands-on practice.


We will have 4 groups, each with up to 8 participants + group leaders.

Group 1: Newspapers

The group offers a choice of one of two perspectives on the large corpus dataset of newspapers published in 1771–1910 in Finland. One is to look at parish records available at HisKi-service and see if the people in the records can be matched to person name references in the newspaper data. Enriching the newspaper data with metadata concerning the people mentioned in the articles can provide new insights on how different groups of people have been considered worthy of attention during the early part of the 19th century Finland. The second concerns the study of conceptual change of urbanization in Finland. The approach combines linguistic and historical research with text mining to study the changes in how the discourse on the process of urbanization and cities in general develops during the 19th century.

Methodological expertise in the following areas will be useful:

Group 2: Finnish public tv broadcasting

This group studies social change reflected in the Finnish television broadcasting, especially around the 1980s. Possible research questions include, e.g., changes in women’s airtime and changes in airtime for political parties. The research material is provided by YLE, the national public-broadcasting company, and it consists of tv program metadata from 1985–1990, with approximately 97,000 programs. This will be a pilot study — the data set has not been released before! We will also use openly available data sources such as tv programs in “Elävä arkisto” as supplementary material.

Methodological expertise in the following areas will be useful:

Group 3: Exploring the changing Helsinki

This group explores ways of documenting and visualizing the change of the city or selected neighbourhoods over time based on historical time series and datasets available. We will use maps, photos, and data related to housing, built environment, traffic, population, etc. Source material includes datasets from Helsinki Region Infoshare, Helsinki GeoServer, and Museum Finna photo database.

Methodological expertise in the following areas will be useful:

Group 4: Early modern English books

This group investigates printed English texts in a wealth of genres from 1473 to 1700. Potential research questions include visual aspects of printed language (spelling, punctuation, typographical emphasis) and their change and variation particularly in the context of language standardisation, the emergence of important social and cultural concepts in public discourse, for example the domains of health and sociability, plagiarism in early English printed books, and printing house conventions across centuries. We will use EEBO-TCP, which consists of XML transcriptions of selected books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America or printed in English elsewhere between 1473 and 1700. This group has access to over 30,000 XML files (ca. 8 GB) from EEBO-TCP. The texts cover a multitude of genres and topics, from literature to learned scientific treatises, legal proclamations and popular news pamphlets. Online tools such as the Oxford English Dictionary and the Historical Thesaurus of English may also be useful to the group.

Methodological expertise in the following areas will be useful:




Orientation days

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Intensive working period

Presentation of projects

We will have public presentations of the projects on Friday, 20 May 2016 at 13:00–17:00:

The presentations thake place at Minerva Square, in Siltavuorenpenger 5 A, at the University of Helsinki.

Everyone interested in the hackathon and digital humanities is welcome to come and listen to the presentations! The event is free, but please register here in advance to let us know that you are coming!



3–5 ECTS credits.

Students from the University of Helsinki: please contact Mikko Tolonen for more details on the credits.

Students from Aalto University: please contact Jukka Suomela for more details on the credits. For Aalto students, this hackathon is an instance of the course CSE-E5001 – Special Course in Software Systems and Technologies.


Registration is now closed. If you would still like to participate, please contact the organisers directly.